The Australian Pharmacists Of The Future Are Learning In A Virtual Classroom

Griffith University's School of Pharmacy has no need for old-fashioned learning tools - these students are learning in classrooms equipped with a range of projectors and augmented reality smartglasses.

The classrooms feature six Epson high brightness, ultra-short throw interactive projectors and Moverio BT-300 glasses.

"This cutting edge facility is the future of technology-driven education and provides students with a truly immersive virtual environment," says Dr Gary Grant, Deputy Head in Learning and Teaching the School of Pharmacy.

Using these tools, the students can learn in an interactive environment anywhere in the world - without ever having to leave the classroom.

"Students are able to completely control the pace of their learning and interact with virtual patients in more or less any environment that is relevant to their work-integrated learning needs," says Dr Grant.

"One big advantage of the new technology is to facilitate better student preparation for placements which gives both the student and their supervisor a better on-site experience."

Grant and his team have sunk a lot of time into researching how AR and projection technology could benefit the classroom.

"Our research team in the School of Pharmacy was looking for a solution to easily develop and research augmented reality counselling for pharmacy students and healthcare professionals," Grant explained. "The application was originally developed for the Epson Moverio BT-200, but has since moved to the BT-300 and this is now currently a part of our Master of Medical Research project."

Here's how it works, in a nutshell:

Medicine containers, or "markers", are identified using Wikitude and counselling information is augmented in the Moverio's heads-up display.

Participants are introduced to the product and then work through a session of counselling using the augmented counselling guide that's presented to whoever is wearing the smartglasses and those watching the edge-blended projection.

Participants then complete a technology acceptance survey to inform the re-design and refinement of the counselling guide.

The projectors in the classroom are all connected via HDMI with a single remote controller managing the entire network. Each projector has its own dongle, LAN and WiFi transmitter so teachers can multi-demonstrate.

For Grant the implementation of the smartglasses with the projectors has allowed the university to take learning to a whole new level - but he sees this as just the beginning.

"Soon we will be able to wear the BT-300, look at a patient and dispense medication all via the menu system within the smartglasses," Grant explained. "The BT-300 allows true AI and true accessibility of information in realtime whilst teaching, learning and practicing medicine and bridges the gap between innovation and education."

"It's as close to being in the environment you're projecting as you can be without actually being there."